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DALLAS

By Fr. Wilson (articles ) | Nov 19, 2003

It is always worthwhile, whenever someone in authority in the Diocese of Dallas says something, to stop and pay attention. It's like an achingly irritating soap opera to which one has become addicted.

The Diocese of Dallas is highly incensed over an editorial commenting on a question reportedly posed by Bishop Charles Grahmann at last week's bishops' meeting. As reported by Susan Hogan/Albach of the Dallas Morning News:

"But Auxiliary Bishop Robert Brucato of New York said any guidelines should be streamlined, not made more thorough, because of the time, money and paperwork involved for dioceses like his, which has more than 200 foreign priests. While some foreign-born priests seek permanent placement, others are in the United States only temporarily. Dallas Bishop Charles Grahmann said he receives letters from priests wanting assignments while vacationing in Texas. "Do we do all of the background checks if somebody wants to come for six weeks, he's on vacation and he wants to help out to make a few bucks?" he asked. "I don't know what else we can do these days," Bishop Gaydos said. "Prudence dictates that we must do everything possible."

The query, coming as it did from the Bishop of, of all places, DALLAS, struck some at the DMN as astounding, and the editorial resulted.

Stung, the Diocese has replied through the good offices of the Texas Catholic. One wishes that the Diocese had a friend somewhere, anywhere, with some sense, someone to which it could turn at such moments for advice... who would tell it, "Just shut up. You always only make it worse. Rerun that excellent position paper on Salmon fishing in the Columbia River instead. It's perfect Texas Catholic page-one material."

It turns out that, when Bishop Grahmann asked, "Do we do all of the background checks if somebody wants to come for six weeks, he's on vacation and he wants to help out to make a few bucks," he wasn't really asking that question. He was trying to elicit the 'Yes!' answer which he knew to be correct, you see.

Okay. I get it now. Although, why in that case he didn't say something like, "Of course, if someone wants to come from elsewhere and work even for just six weeks and then return home, we still do the background checks, right?" That would have been clear, it would have emphasized that the right answer is in the affirmative, and it would have established that the speaker wasn't asking a really, really dumb question.

But there are other aspects of the Diocese's response which repay careful attention as well; for instance, this comment on the editorial from the coadjutor, reported in the Texas Catholic:

"'This is totally false. I don’t know how they could do such a terrible thing,' said Bishop Galante, who attended the meeting in Washington, D.C."

Really? Well, perhaps a google search might help, Excellency. If you run a google on the name Ernesto Villaroya, you might remember an incident which apparently is so trivial that it has slipped your mind. After weeks of protest, parishioners in Frisco, TX were finally informed that Fr Beltran, their former pastor, had been removed weeks before for fundraising without permission. But his replacement, Villaroya, a Filipino, had been accused of raping a woman in his home country, who bore his child. While these charges were dismissed, as the diocese correctly pointed out, it was due to statute of limitations considerations, which for some reason parishioners did not find consoling. Moreover, the diocese maintained that Villaroya had served in this country with an unblemished record, yet it turned out that during his Los Angeles years he had repeatedly ignored chancery demands that he apply for faculties to minister there. Any marriage performed by this priest with the spotless record was invalid.

That's one answer to your puzzlement, Excellency. Trust in this situation is at a low ebb. People remember that kind of trivia. There are folks who just look at the record and think that they have cause to suspect that the diocese just doesn't get it. And they do have cause. And the absurd posturing of victimhood by the diocese, with the accompanying plaintive wailing, doesn't help.

The cherry on this sundae is the editorial by Deacon Bronson Havard, diocesan spokesman and Texas Catholic editor. It concludes:

"However, the Morning News’ editorial writer and the editor who approved the editorial are apparently not interested in truth when it comes to the Catholic Church. Their position is to attack, attack and attack some more. There are many Christian, Muslim and other faith-based people who are disgusted with some editorial writers and editors at the Morning News. I can see why."

YIKES! The Muslim reference is really unfortunate. There's been pointed comment by the DMN on Muslim groups posing as "moderate" and "mainstream," but which are actually allied with extremist, violent and anti-semitic enemies of our country. In one publicly-known incident, the leader of one such organization, meeting with the DMN editorial board, was asked about such ties, presented with a well-researched list of names of jihad-inciting associates of his organization. He responded by denouncing his questioner as someone who reminded him of the Nazis. Deacon Havard's choice of allies is unfortunate; faced with a choice between them and his employers, one would be nonplussed to know where to look.

The public relations efforts of the Dallas Diocese are positively evangelical. Well, at least, they do always remind me of the Gospel. Specifically, Luke 8:33, the relentless rush of the Gadarene swine to the precipice.

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Father Fetus - Nov. 20, 2003 12:14 PM ET USA

    extreme: Priests are not always compensated fairly (in a wordly sense) and vacations often have to be working vacations if they involve any "extras" like air travel, car rental, meals out, etc.

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Nov. 19, 2003 10:17 PM ET USA

    "[the priest] on vacation and he wants to help out to make a few bucks" I work for a Wall Street firm in a position where trust and integrity are especially important and I am compensated fairly for my effort. When I go on vacation, I'm not looking to help out to make a few bucks. What's up with priests?

  • Posted by: - Nov. 19, 2003 7:14 AM ET USA

    The Church is going to be in trouble until incompetent and worse bishops are kept in their positions. I know one cannot remove a bishop willy-nilly. But the Pope should defrock and dismiss just as many as he ahs to. It won't take many. Most of the offenders would rather not loose a cushy job. For them, being bishop is no more than that.

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